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Writing in Economics - Oakland Campus: Scholarly Information

This guide is designed to assist students in the economics department and others writing research papers with an economic or socio-economic focus.

Scholarly Resources Explained

Here is a handy checklist to help you in determining if a work is scholarly or not (see the PDF in the link).

Identifying Peer Reviewed Literature

How can you tell whether a journal is peer reviewed?

Check the introductory and descriptive material in the journal:

  • Does it state that the journal is peer reviewed?
  • Does it refer to or describe the review procedure?
  • Does it give instructions for reviewers?

Look up the journal in the Ulrichsweb database:

  • Is the journal refereed?
  • Is the content academic / scholarly?

Limit your search results to peer reviewed sources, if the database includes that feature.

Remember: not all articles in a peer reviewed journal are actually peer reviewed. Editorials, letters to the editor, news, and opinion pieces, for example, are not peer reviewed.

What is Scholarly Information?

Your instructor is asking you to use scholarly sources for your research. Scholarly information is based on in-depth research and is considered to be higher quality and more reliable information for your paper. Scholarly journal articles are normally either peer reviewed or invited by the editor of the journal. Books, book chapters, and conference proceedings can also be sources of scholarly information.

Some of the common characteristics that can help you recognize different types of information sources are listed below.


  • written for professors, students, researchers, or specialists
  • written by researchers
  • journal titles often name the subject area and may include terms like "Journal of", "Transactions", "Quarterly", or "Proceedings"
  • articles are peer reviewed or reviewed by an editorial board of experts
  • articles follow a standard format: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusions, references to cited literature
  • may include graphs, tables, or illustrations to support the research conclusions
  • uses vocabulary specific to the subject area
  • cites other articles used in the research
  • little or no advertising

General Audience (Popular)

  • written to appeal to a broad segment of the population
  • often written by magazine staff writers
  • articles may be unsigned
  • general editors of the magazine review articles
  • no particular format for articles
  • may be heavily illustrated with lots of photographs, glossy pictures, and bright covers
  • lots of advertising

Trade / Professional Publications

  • written to appeal to specialists in the field
  • provides information of interest and use to a particular industry or profession
  • articles may be unsigned
  • general editors of the magazine review articles
  • no particular format for articles
  • advertising is used to appeal to those in the field

Tutorial on Recognizing Scholarly Sources

Learn how to recognize and cite scholarly articles.

Click on the image to watch the video 

Help With Evaluating What You Find